The NFL Lockout was a harrowing time for fans of America's most popular sporting event; there was doubt, there was turmoil, there was much consternation. There was a risk of losing games, losing a preseason, or worst of all, losing America's other favorite past time: Fantasy Football.
But as the calendar turned to August, through the fog of despair came a glimmering light of compromise; A new deal was struck! Training camps opened, playbooks were distributed, free-agency was frantic, and finally, the moment the fans have been waiting for: We can start cramming for our fantasy drafts!
I have been a Fantasy Football addict for several years now, and the relief of the new CBA can not be adequately expressed in text. Life without football would of been one thing, but life without my Fantasy League, the trash talk, the weekly roster-bating, the living and dying with each RB touch, would have not been worth living.
In celebration of our beautiful past time returning, over the next week or two I will be releasing the first annual SB Nation Tampa Bay Fantasy Football Primer. This series will profile each key position with a full ranking the top selections as well as a heavy focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players available at each position.
First up, Quarterbacks.
For the first few years of my Fantasy Football addiction the first goal I would set for myself was to avoid homerism. In fact, I even went as far as to force myself to avoid Buccaneers players as a rule. Not only could bias influence my decision making with Bucs players but also they were generally pretty bad fantasy players. That may have finally changed in 2011, thanks to the 2010 breakout season of the Bucs, when as many as four Buccaneers offensive weapons could find themselves in the top 10 of most analysts rankings.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay's third year starting quarterback, headlines the group of Buccaneer Young Guns making a name for themselves in Fantasy. In 2010, as a late round sleeper pick, Freeman exploded onto the scene raking up 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions. His 95.9 quarterback rating ranked him 6th amongst NFL quarterbacks in just his second pro season. Freeman also finished 8th in Fantasy points last season, tied with Matt Ryan, while averaging 18.5 points a game. During the final stretch of the season, when most leagues are in their playoffs, Freeman didn't disappoint, posting 4 straight 200+ yard games with 9 TDs and no picks.
Going forward, look for Freeman to continue to grow and develop along with the Tampa Bay offensive firepower. Chemistry with second year stud receiver Mike Williams should only get better and the only risk to Freeman's numbers improving further looks too be standout RB LeGarrette Blount dominating opposing defensive fronts, or injury. Freeman is not an elite quarterback yet, but as a middle to late round pick he has great value and should be in line for another solid Fantasy season.
Now, The Rankings:
- Michael Vick, PHI - When healthy there was no more dominant force in weekly fantasy football match ups than Vick. If he can stay on the field he is the best player in the league. Period.
Aaron Rodgers, GB - Rodgers has almost too many weapons and a healthy Jermichael Finley will only improve the already high-powered offense.
Drew Brees, NO - Not many teams have been able to stop the Saints' offense in recent years and Brees should continue to be one of the leagues top scoring threats despite the departure of RB Reggie Bush.
Philip Rivers, SD - Often overlooked, Rivers has quietly become one of the games elite QBs and with Vincent Jackson back and Antonio Gates healthy he should have another monster year.
Tom Brady, NE - Chad Ochocinco gives Brady another sure fire target in an offense with no sure thing running back. Another big season is on the horizon for the NFLs pretty boy.
Peyton Manning, IND - Age & Injury concerns combined with a rebuilt O-Line dropped Manning a bit on this list, but he should still be a force.
Matt Schaub, HOU - Like Rivers, Schaub is often over looked when it comes to elite QBs but when healthy he is a prolific passer. Arian Fosters emergence may have hurt his value but he's a great second tier pick.
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - Mike Wallace is developing into a star and combined with Hines Ward, Big Ben could have quite a receiving corps to work with.
Josh Freeman, TB - See above.
- Tony Romo, DAL
- Matt Ryan, ATL
- Joe Flacco, BAL
- Eli Manning, NYG
- Sam Bradford, STL
- Matt Cassel, KC
- Jay Cutler, CHI
- Kevin Kolb, ARI
- Donovan McNabb, MIN
- Matthew Stafford, DET
- Mark Sanchez, NYJ
- David Garrard, JAC
- Jason Campbell, OAK
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF
- Kyle Orton, DEN
- Colt McCoy, CLE
- Matt Hasselbek, TEN
- Cam Newton, CAR
- Chad Henne, MIA
- Alex Smith, SF
- Tavaris Jackson, SEA
- Bruce Gradkowski, CIN
- John Beck, WAS
Stay tuned to SBNation Tampa Bay and the Fantasy Football Primer as we tackle running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. We will get you prepared for your draft so that you can dominate your league this season.